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5 Ways Social Media Will Change Political Campaigns in 2014

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Since President Obama’s digitally driven victory in the 2008 presidential election, politicians nationwide have been signing on to social media accounts in order to increase their following. They have integrated Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus into their campaign strategies and have continued to connect with their constituents on social media well after winning — or losing — elections.

But with a new year comes new technology, new applications, and new social media trends. Below are 5 predictions about how politicians will use social media to better reach out to, connect with, and win over potential voters in 2014.

The Google+ user base grew 33 percent from June 2012 to March 2013, making it the second largest social network in the world. And to further expand its reach, Google has introduced Google Plus ads that will run on Google Display Network, which includes over 2 million sites.

“The ads look just like Google Plus posts but appear outside the network,” Mashable commented, and Google will allow consumers to reshare, comment, or even join a live Hangout straight from the ad.

While Facebook and Twitter dominated the political realm during the 2012 presidential election, Google Plus will likely become more popular as advertising becomes more accessible to politicians.

5 Reasons Why Google Plus Should Be Your Social Network of Choice

The future of social media is image-based, and for good reason. Posts that include photo albums receive 180 percent more engagement than the average post.

If Barack Obama’s social media team has taught us anything, it’s that images speak louder than words, with his most popular tweet (and the most retweeted tweet on the entire social network in 2012) consisting of a photo of him and Michelle Obama.

In the 2012 election, Facebook was an integral factor in mobilizing young voters. Recent studies reveal, however, that young adults are leaving Facebook and flocking to social networks such as Instagram and Vine.

To appeal to young voters, politicians have already started sharing their campaigns, careers, and personal lives through filters on Instagram.

Senator Cory Booker and Governor Chris Christie have been early trendsetters, showcasing their expertise on Instagram.

Here is a complete list of the Top 5 Politicians on Instagram in 2013

Politicians are already somewhat comfortable on Facebook and Twitter, but few have started sharing micro-videos. Twitter’s Vine and Facebook’s Instagram, both limiting videos to 15 seconds or under, are two examples of networks that are underused by politicians.

Mico-videos, however, will play an increasingly important role in 2014. As opposed to long campaign ads or fully produced videos from politicians, micro-videos allow politicians to candidly share a behind the scenes look into their daily lives. In an age of information overload, the ability to watch a video as opposed to reading an article or tweet will give politicians an edge at engaging with their constituents.

In 2012, I reflected on the election by compiling a list of 10 reasons why Twitter mattered in the 2012 election. Of those reasons, its ability to allow for real-time reactions is why I believe Twitter will become increasingly relevant in future elections:

“Twitter has become a hub for voters to see real-time reactions, candid responses, and instantly check facts and statistics referenced in debates and speeches. It demands transparency from the candidates, knowing that their arguments can be verified in the blink of an eye.”

As of November 2013, one in ten Americans gets their news from Twitter. I predict this number will grow substantially in the wake of another election.

Join the discussion Please be relevant and respectful.

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Vinod Narbar
Vinod Narbar

Narendra Modi, Indian Prime Minister again proves the power of Social Media in Politics and won the election of biggest democracy of World.....Cheers Social Media.....


This is really interesting. I'm currently doing research for an essay on social media in politics, a comparison between Obama and Cameron (UK prime minister). It's obvious that more and more politicians have seen the importance of social media tools, but how they use them makes the difference. Also, the personality of each politician is an important factor. Obama is pictured as a normal person, loves kids and animals, he laughs, he has a sense of humor. And he does show this offline. That's why when on Facebook, from Barack Obama official account, they posts funny, lovable pictures, people see it normal. Because that's how Obama really is - or how he acts offline -. 

Otherwise, Cameron is following this strategy without seeing that people in UK don't think he is like Obama. The offline strategy must be clear if they want an online strategy. Not everyone can be lovable or funny if they're not like that in real life.

I'll put this article on my bibliography! Thanks!

Alex_G moderator

for number 5 - it's been more of a negative than a positive when it comes to politicians on twitter.


There should be no doubt that those candidates that totally embrace social media will be more successful, especially in attracting younger voters; Millennials and late Gen X'ers. Boomers cannot be ruled out either as many use FaceBook to know what their adult children and grandchildren are up to. I wouldn't be surprised if social media experts who have a political background end up as campaign managers.  

JaneSusskind moderator

@DougGoodman I agree. The average Facebook user is actually a female aged around 50...making it not only a path to teens, but to their parents. I think it will be interesting to see how politicians start using newer social media channels (Vine, Instagram etc.) 


@JaneSusskind @DougGoodman Will they personally embrace it as a means to communicate with their constituents or just tolerate it as a campaign tool used by staff? I think that mostly will depend on age. Us older folks are still a little slow on the pick-up. Could the fear of social media actually weigh in on a candidate's decision to run?  That may not be a bad thing. It's time for those in their 20's, 30's and 40's to interject fresh ideas into the system. After all, the future is yours. I actually look forward to it.


@DougGoodman @JaneSusskind Some will and some won't. Obama, for instance, is not sitting on Twitter responding to everyone mention unless he makes it a point to hold a Twitter chat or publicizes it. Some politicians are really great about managing their own accounts, or at least being honest about when they are responding and when it's staff. Some will sign their initials on tweets that are from them personally. And others, like Cory Booker, will personally manage his accounts. 

I think that social media is no longer a compliment, but a necessity and that may scare some people who aren't familiar with the technology, but it also empowers candidates who may have that knowledge, but lack funds. I think independent-minded candidates have a lot to gain from social media. Most of the time, they will not be funded by a major party, so will have to find other (cheaper) ways to gain support, and social media provides that, given these candidates have an understanding of how best to use it.

I'm looking forward to seeing how all this pans out in the future too, and I think you're somewhat right in saying that it's time for younger generations to interject fresh ideas into the system. I say this because the way we live our lives is changing. We live our lives online, and issues like privacy now extend to the digital world. If politicians don't have an understanding of the implications of technology on our privacy, how can they craft laws to protect it?